The Room with a View is ‘about’ photography, or more accurately, it is about the view that the camera gives us of ourselves. The central theme of the tape is the way in which time, memory and image are intertwined. Ideas and notions of identity and self-image are the major theme in my video work of this period, and they lead directly to later tapes and installations in which this self-reflexive aspect of the human mind becomes central to my work. Initial ideas for this video tape came out of readings of Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes and the photographic work of Jo Spence and the Film Stills of Cindy Sherman. I was also influenced by experimental film work, in particular by Hollis Frampton’s Nostalgia (1971) and La Jetee (1962) by Chris Marker. I have had an fascination with the photographic self-portrait since I began working with the camera in the late 1960’s.
The Room with a View presents an assembled sequence of personal family snapshots shown in strict chronological order, starting with the earliest and continuing until the point at which I have a clear memory of the event, untainted by the view imposed onto that event by the camera. These are the pictures of myself that make a significant contribution to my ‘sense of self”. Images of growing up that are infused and elaborated by parental reminiscences, and events magnified by the very fact of being preserved, frozen out of the flux of life, and made iconic. I wanted to make a work that was personal but also ‘public’, and my choice of holiday ‘snaps’ was based on a certainty that they would resemble countless pictures of others of my generation, and that this work would evoke a similar response in them.
This video assemblage of snapshots is intercut by images of the sea and sky originally recorded for Field Study (1980). Additional video material was also shot using a 3 tube colour camera (JVC KY 2000) borrowed from LCP and ‘patched’ directly into the edit suite. Captions, diagrams and simple line drawings were luminance-keyed using a simple caption keyer/colouriser. The ‘seaside atmospheric’ soundtrack of waves and seagulls was recorded on location and transferred to video in the edit suite.
The Room with a View was an important tape in terms of my development as an artist. The first work to be produced entirely on my own equipment, and made during the first year of a part-time MA at Goldsmiths (1981-83), it was presented in a wide range of venues and gave me renewed confidence to continue my experimental work.
See: A Sense of Myself, CD Rom, Oxford Brookes University, 1994. See also Ian Harrow’s essay in Chris Meigh-Andrews, Video Tapes, installations, CD Roms: 1978-1997 , and my Xerox self-portrait in New British Image , Arts Council of Great Britain, 1977. Exhibitions of this work included “New British Video”, Museum of Long Beach , California, 1983; “Video/Performance” ,The Photographer’s Gallery, 1984 and the Videotheque, ICA, London, 1982, The Basement, Newcastle, 1982.